Toyah's Ready To Rumble in the Jungle

She was no Johnny Rotten but, to many, Toyah Willcox remains an icon of punk. With her shocking rainbow-coloured hair she spent the first half of the 80s flying high in the charts with post-punk anthems such as It's A Mystery.

But it looks like we'll be seeing a very different side to the singer/actress over the next couple of weeks - in more ways than one. 

In the second series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! - set to dominate our TV screens for a fortnight from Monday - she's planning to throw off the shackles of civilisation and go back to nature big style - with a little help from her celeb pal and fellow contestant Wayne Sleep. 

"I do have this fantasy that Wayne and I will run naked through the jungle," she says mischievously with her trademark lisp. "My biggest fantasy is being naked in a rainforest." 

The fact that she'll be sharing the screen with glamour girl Catalina doesn't bother her in the slightest. 

"There's no way they'll get me into a bikini in the jungle standing next to Catalina - but I would go naked against her," she says. "Bikinis only accentuate all the bad bits. 

"When I had the meeting for the show, they couldn't believe my muscles. They were expecting a middle-age spread," says Birmingham-born Toyah, 44, in her final interview before leaving her Australian hotel for the jungle. 

"It's only in the last year that, for the first time, I enjoy being in my body. Doing the stage show Calamity Jane has kept me fit as I'm doing lots stage fighting, stunt work and acrobatics. 

"My legs and arms are solid muscle and I do about 200 press-ups a day followed by 50 sit-ups. I have to be iron hard. 

"I always had to be sexy and worry about my weight as a singer and it made me shy - now I don't give a damn." 

This devil-may-care attitude could take Toyah to the final stages of the competition. 

And thanks to her rather bizarre marital arrangements, she has another big advantage over her fellow castaways. 

While Danniella Westbrook, Sian Lloyd, Antony Worrall Thompson and the rest of the intrepid jungle adventurers will be pining for their loved ones, Toyah will actually be a lot closer to her 56-year-old husband, former King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, than she normally is. 

"I don't see enough of Robert anyway, so being apart won't be a huge wrench for me," she says. "I'll miss talking to him on the phone but he'll be flying out to Australia. 

"He's normally based in Nashville. It's has been a tough year because I've been away on tour most of the time. It means that so far this year I've seen him for only three weeks, but I'm used to it because it's been like that for 17 years. 

"At the beginning I was always heartbroken and pining for him, but I recreated my life to be busy and not to think about it too much. 

"It is an usual situation but we like our own company. Last year he was actually home for three months but we ended up living in different houses. 

"But I love his company and I love looking at him. I like him more since he's got older because he looks grey and distinguished now." 

It was during one of their many long trans-atlantic telephone calls that Robert encouraged his wife to give the jungle challenge a go. 

And when he flies out to Australia he'll give TV audiences a personal insight into how he believes Toyah is coping Down Under. 

My husband's over the moon and thinks this is a reward for a year of extremely hard work," says Toyah. 

"When he gets to Australia he'll spend the whole time crying because he's so soft. 

"If he sees me doing anything dangerous he'll just burst into tears. He's a very private person but he's happy I'm doing this and he'll do anything to support me." 

After suffering miscarriages in her twenties, Toyah was so certain that she didn't want children that she had herself sterilised at the age of 27.

She believes that this has allowed their unconventional relationship to flourish. 

"I think not having children helps us," she says. "It's not that I don't like children, but we're free - I mean, we don't even share a bank account. 

"This kind of marriage may not work for anyone else, but I don't think we'd change our way together. 

"I thought we'd live together when we married and of course you want that at the beginning but because of our careers, we never fixed it like that. 

"I guess I'm married to my work now and need the phone to ring and love meeting deadlines." 

So while her rivals pine for their loved ones and fret about giving up their sex lives, Toyah's terrors are far more immediate. 

"I'm terrified of every insect except for butterflies," she says. "Snakes don't bother me unless they're hissing and are bright yellow. But there have been times when I've woken up with a spider on me and I've burst into tears. I'm hoping to escape that one. 

"I'm also worried about not being able to eat when I want to, and the lack of chocolate. I get huge sugar cravings. 

"And I'm phobic about going to the loo if people can hear. I'll have to get Wayne to sing when I'm in the loo to cover up the sound. 

"I'll find it hard because I like my own space so I hope I get time to think. If I need to, I'll walk away and be quiet, on my own. 

"And I don't take any nonsense from people. I learned that from my school days. I limped because one of my legs was longer than the other and I was badly bullied from the age of four until I was 11 in ways I can't even talk about. 

"They used to strangle me with their shoelaces until I passed out. It took a year for me to realise it wasn't normal. 

"I finally dealt with it by knocking the biggest bully flat out. I picked up a chair and smashed it over her head. If I hadn't fought back I would have been trampled on. Now I don't take any rubbish from people. 

"If people are negative or moan, then I won't like it, but I'm always the devil's advocate when arguments happen which might infuriate people. 

"I'm also a bit of a mickey taker so I think I'll be the joker of the pack. I can see me hiding Antony's underpants or setting his clothes on fire." 

Unless Toyah's tantrums see her kicked out early, there'll be no time for recuperation after her jungle ordeal. 

A few days after she returns to the UK she's due back on stage in Calamity Jane in Sheffield. The show then moves to the West End on June 12. 

She's also somehow finding the time to release a new album called Velvet Lined Shell. 

"I love diversity and gear my life around it. If I feel trapped, I move on," she says 

Despite the convenient timing of her album, Toyah insists her participation in the show is nothing to do with self-promotion. 

"I'm not doing this as a publicity stunt, it will be a huge personal learning curve," she says. 

"When there's no food and comfort or family around me, the true me will come out and I want to see who that person is. 

"To the public, I lisp and I'm quirky - that's who I am. But there are more levels to me and I want people to see the real Toyah. 

"And, like I said, I can't wait to experience being naked in a rainforest." 

By Nick Webster And Emma Bussey

Daily Mirror 
26th April 2003